Month: April 2020

Patterns & Signs: On killing old trees

Sunlight through branches of an old tree

Earth Day was the reminder that I have been here for four years, only four years, although these days, weeks feel like months so years feel like an eternity.

When I first saw her, I thought “wow…she’s old!” Her roots, sprawling across the yard were providing stability for her wide bottom, securing her future even though her fruit were slow to reveal themselves and her many branches were unsteady. Yet, I was in awe of her.

The inspector pointed out that she would have to be cut, on one side you could see how she was threatening my own protection, our house/his future wealth, my right-then investment. Her roots were cracking the foundation just outside my door. Her far reaching trunk was hampering the sun’s light, starving smaller, younger life beneath her.

In the tumult of several rainy days, branches snapped, limbs scraped the rooftop and weedy grass revealed the persistent gasp her roots now made to stake the soil and hold on.

Like this moment, I decided to take the old and beautiful thing down. No real memorial just a single picture of her…along with the promise that I will plant more in place of her. I will be thoughtful about the sure history that will come later–after years of support and care. I will choose ones whose roots run deep rather than wide…whose growth will be intentionally slow rather than fast and sure to be overturned when the next and certain storm comes.

Like this moment, I will think about her as I pen a new plan.

Yes, the ecosystem of this yard has changed like the educational landscape I am witnessing in this moment. Perhaps it is time to re-imagine my garden.

Reflections on Earth Day 50

Part 1: One with the earth

When I stop to reflect on who I am, what I am, where I am, why I am, I can’t separate my am-ness from the planet on which I rely. I went outside today to feel her pulse and see her life…

Rich and black in spots, depleted and abused in others…bearing fruit in both. Wondering if weeds are good for her or as bad as my urge to pull them produced…

But there is much I learn from weeds, whose shelter creates a cozy nest for the super fat grubs still growing (or are they napping) before birthing their hard beetle skin.

These weeds that trick us into believing in their value with hearty greens and interesting floral patterns…they build networks that run deep, just under the surface, with roots that spread and sprawl or excavate deeper soils in search of a foundation that will supply strength.

I said I was only going to be out here to simply cut the grass for my compost and ignore the distracting weeds…

But they call to me with their herbal aromas as I cut. They invite me to see how they do it…how they become strong, resilient and still grow.

After way too long a commitment, I pause to look at my hands.

I don’t recognize them as my own without the manicure that this 2020 life has denied them…I cut them low myself so I know how they feel but they don’t look like my own…they look my grandfather’s…the men who first taught me to pull the weeds from the cracks to preserve the driveway for a little while longer. The men who taught me to plant things that I like so I could experience the pleasure of the process. One was a pastry chef the other a line mechanic that was our family engineer. Then I wonder where is the song that celebrates grandpa’s hands…

Right hand soiled in the palm, on the fingers and under the nail beds with fresh dirt from the garden. Fingers bent inward, skin dry, nails short
Gardening hand
Bill Withers (Recorded in 1971): 1938 – 2020

Part 2: Anniversaries

Earth Day 2020 is the fourth anniversary of the purchase of my “dream”



Passing something worth having on

To the next generation…

Acknowledging the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape heritage of the land where this house sits.

I wonder how to pass on better practices for those who will come even after me…

I see the gift of planted trees made at least hundreds of years ago in the soil and smell it in the air. As I pluck wild onions from between the variegated leaves of the hostas that were left to sprout every year since I have been here.

I am wondering how to make a garden blueprint of perennials for my own kinfolk or the next persons who will occupy this space.

I wonder what’s the best way to mark an anniversary? What better way than to leave a learned lesson like treasure to be found…

Generation A?

What comes after Z?

Do we start again at A?

Or do we assume it to be AA, like batteries for the

Remote [learning] Control on the coffee table?

The generation that is described as


Intoxicated by capital gain in the form of SELF absorption

Self Interest

No Interest in other

(At least on the surface)…

Where the mirror tells stories through Insta filters and Photoshop, that even they believe…both persons reflected back…the real and the fantastic…both reflected forward

We are witnessing the









Where people no longer greet with a handshake or a hug

Where people, perhaps even lovers, are afraid of their first kiss

Where people reclaim family dinners to save themselves from the tyranny of universal access to the internet

Where people say NO to Alexa and Siri and Big Brother because they are tired of being watched

Where school children are the beneficiaries of the parent lobby that refuses to endorse a day manipulated by politico-educators foreign to the ways of children

Where tests or the ever-expanding pursuit of more mean nothing because time, in front of people, with pages in solitude and reflection, surrender their gifts for those willing to invest it…

Where the parent lobby,

the teacher lobby,

the right lobby and the left

Demand their children, all children have mandatory recess, clean food, balanced assignments and multi-





Born after 2015, the new GENERATION will be NEW.